Monday, August 23, 2004

Standardized testing

Standardized testing. If you are like most teachers, you are probably tired of standarized testing. They don't really tell a lot except how ell a particular teacher and school are at teaching the test. Here is an article on the basic concept from Wikinfo.

From the site:

Standardized testing refers to any test that is used across a variety of schools or other situations. Designers of such tests must specify a discrete correct answer for every question. This type of test includes both achievement (which measures knowledge already known) and aptitude (which attempts to predict future performance or potental) tests given to grade-school students, the English GCSEs, and the American SATs.

Standardized tests generally include at least some multiple-choice and true-false questions. These can be graded by computer, or by humans who do not understand the material in depth, as long as they have a list of the correct answers. One potential defect in such tests is that the test-taker can accidentally skip a line and then be marked wrong on material to which he or she knew the correct answer.

Standardized tests often include written portions as well; these are graded by humans who have use rubrics or guidelines as to what a good essay on the subject will be.

Some believe that standardized tests make it possible to compare the achievements of students from different schools, eliminating bias from grade inflation and the influence of schools' reputations on university admissions officers. Others contend that standardized tests reinforce bias in education because students whose families have access to enrichment opportunities do better on such tests than students from other parts of a society. Such tests, as objective as they try to be, are tools of culture and are rooted in whatever cultural or philosophical understanding gave them rise.


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